The World Gold Council heralded in its 2004 "Sweet Hereafter" motif with a fashion show in Beijing last week.
The World Gold Council is a non-profit association of the world's leading gold producers, established to promote the use of gold. With headquarters in Geneva, the Council is represented by a network of offices in the major centers of gold demand around the world and its promotional activities cover markets representing some three quarters of the world's annual consumption of gold.
At the show, sponsored by the China division of the World Gold Council, pretty Chinese models displayed state-of-the-art Italian gold craftsmanship and 18-karat (18k) gold designs, including European trendsetting chokers, bracelets, mesh neckties with fringe ends and necklaces worked in plaited chains.
The collections wowed audiences with their exquisite shapes, forms and creative designs in a wide variety of colors.
The show aimed to serve as an eye-opener for the new trends and fashions in gold products and to woo potential Chinese consumers in an attempt to further tap the Chinese market. China already ranks third in gold consumption in the world.
The jewellery design this year projects an aura of gaiety, happiness and colour, like sweet melodious tunes that send joyful blessings to the future of mankind.
In 2003, people around the world were inundated daily by political dramas, tragedies of war and dark sentiments of insecurity threatening the lives and well-being of their loved ones.
Stepping into 2004, designers have attempted to bring into their work sentiments of joy and optimism.
Vibrant colors, vivid imagination, vigorous energy, light-hearted playfulness and the sweet celebration of the bliss of life portend a more lively fashion scene.
Meanwhile, designers are becoming even more experimental in juxtaposing gold of different colors with innovative materials of all kinds including semi-precious stones, glazes, beads, shells and even crocodile leather in a rainbow of color schemes.
"The warmth of gold and the dreamlike beauty of rainbow- colored decorative materials make each piece of modern jewellery a 'must-have' treasure for woman, in a year when the scent of romance is lingering in the air," explained Mandy Yiu, representative of the World Gold Council from Hong Kong.
Under the motif "Sweet Hereafter," 2004's trend features three themes: "Princess in Wonderland," "Dancing & Swinging" and "Op Art Feast."
The theme "Princess in Wonderland" recaptures the mood of childhood innocence. This theme celebrates jewellery designs that are pure, innocent and child-like in appeal.
The collections make people feel like Alice in Wonderland, stepping into the forest and looking at eveything they see and touch through a child's eyes.
The hottest figures include the butterfly, ribbon, heart, button, a flower shape executed in a childish way, magical animals from fairy tales and cartoons.
A festive mood prevails for the theme of "Dancing & Swinging." The jewellery pieces are inspired by the elegant yet sexy party girls of 1920s New York.
A lot of elements in the fashion design of that era influence jewellery today, creating the trend for "chandelier" earrings, necklace and bracelet designs.
The essence of jewellery designs under this theme is the celebration of the vitality of life.
Recall the jewellery sported by Catherine Zeta Jones and Renee Zelwegger in the hit Broadway-themed movie "Chicago." See the golden spotlight, tap to the music and feel the beat of all that jazz.
The designers get into the mood and make sure that the ingenious designs are swinging with graceful movements and bubbling with dynamic energy.
The third theme is "Op Art Feast." Geometric motifs have always featured in every season's design trend. 2004 is witnessing the revival of the "Op Art" of the 1960s combined with the dramatic fashion expression of the 1980s.
Designs still revolve around multi-faceted shapes and forms, mostly of circles and squares, but the key inspiration is 3-dimensional designs. These collections are full of volume in visual appeal and immensely rich in contrast, whatever the colour, shape or texture.
The event is part of the World Gold Council's "Speak Gold" advertising campaign, which started in the autumn of 2003 in the United States, Italian and Indian markets.
For over 5,000 years, gold has been sought after for its beauty, radiance and intrinsic worth, capturing the imagination of entire civilizations.
However, its role in contemporary lives goes much deeper. Gold, the subject of endless myths and fables, has woven itself into different languages and touched people's emotions.
The "Speak Gold" campaign is based on the idea of the language of gold, capturing the universal significance of gold as a means of expression.
"Gold speaks in a language more powerful than words," said Yiu. "When fashioned into elegant jewellery, gold speaks to our hearts evoking joy, generating passion, demonstrating love, celebrating friendship and connecting us to the people, the moments and the events that enrich our lives."
In old China, people gave gold locks as a gift to their newborn baby to symbolize their wish for lifelong happiness. And gold jewellery has been considered an indispensable adornment for the bride and the most felicitous wedding gift," Wang Lixin, China Manager of the World Gold Council, said.
"Gold says something about us and the ones we love. This unique symbolic quality is what gives gold its relevance to our lives," Wang said.
Last September, "Speak Gold" campaign was extended to Shanghai, alongside the introduction of fashionable K-gold or 18k gold jewellery.
And now, the World Gold Council has brought the fashion of K-gold, the most expressive gold, to Beijing, in conjunction with the leading Italian, Taiwan and Hong Kong gold jewellers. They include JustGold, Chow Sang Sang, Chow Tai Fook, Auritalia and Silmar.
In China, pure gold (24 karats) dominates the jewellery market and consumers traditionally treat gold jewellery more as an investment than as a fashion object.
"Gold jewellery is only worn by my mum and aunties, not by young people like me!"
That is a typical response by young urban women in China when asked about wearing gold jewellery.
Why? Because gold has been pushed aside as other consumer choices have proliferated, from the latest mobile phones, a great hair-do, cosmetics and perfume, holidays, spa treatments, restaurant meals to many other consumer goods and services.
However, now the expressive and flexible K-gold offers a totally new choice of lifestyle: People can use gold to express their personality, their individuality, their style, or their feelings of love, affection, appreciation for a friend, lover or relative.
Its key message is that the wearing of K-gold jewellery makes you stand out as a contemporary and stylish trendsetter, eliciting envy and admiration among your peers.
In addition to the traditional yellow gold designs, the K-gold features bi-color or tri-color designs combining karat yellow gold, white gold and rose gold, enriching the colors and versatility of the trendy collection.
With a strong resurgence of yellow gold in almost every market segment of the fashion world, a niche market has emerged with consumers on the constant lookout for branded, trendsetting jewellery products.
"K-gold has become synonymous with style, quality and Italian chic in China ever since we launched the campaign in Shanghai last September," Vincent Chow, CEO of Chow Sang Sang Group said. "China's gold consumption ranks third in the world and demand for gold jewellery counts for the bulk of the total demand," Chow said.
"As an integral part of the gold marketing strategy led by the World Gold Council, we are sure that K-gold jewellery will inject fresh vitality into the lives of young Chinese women and imprint on their mind a new concept of contemporary and fashionable jewellery," Chow added.
"Featuring the marriage of artistic imagination with supreme craftsmanship, the K-gold collections have enjoyed instant sales success in Shanghai and have won the hearts of discerning, stylish Chinese consumers," according to Albert Cheng, Far East Managing Director of the World Gold Council.
Cheng said that such sales-driven yellow gold promotional campaigns also help create more opportunities for European manufacturers to introduce new design and technology into China's market.
"Inter-national gold enterprises are gearing up to enter China to tap its grand potential, making China a shining star in the global gold arena," Cheng said.
(China Daily March 27, 2004)